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Not Sure, when I used to Reset with hole in top, the screen would flash white and then reboot. Now I cannot reset that way anymore (broke the reset button off inside, maybe my 4th time resetting), I have to open the back and pull the battery now
not too happy about it either.
 

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yes. poking reset discharges the pathways actively. That's the layman's answer.
 

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neither affects the firmware. so the short answer is no. Electronics however have millions of little few atom thick conductive pathways in the transistors, etc, and a stray electron can get stuck, for lack of a better way of putting it. Turning it off may not clear the stuck electron. hitting reset should. That's the simplest way of putting it.
 

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no. Firmware - FIRM. It has to be flashed out.
 
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